I had the dream again last night. It becomes more vivid each time I relive it. Even though it has been over thirty years now, I will never forget the terrors of that day my childhood ended for good.
It’s a spring day with flowers blooming and buds blossoming. I can hear the birds singing to one another and the sun warms my face as I walk home from school. The walk isn’t a long one but I take a little extra time as I stop to skip a stone in a nearby creek. The day was long; filled with grammar lessons and arithmetic. But, my mind wasn’t on my studies.
Today was the day my mom was taking me on our monthly girls’ night out! This included an afternoon of some serious mall shopping and then out to dinner at our favourite restaurant. If there was room, maybe even some licorice ice cream for dessert! Even now as I thought about it, my heart skipped a beat. I put a hustle into my step and marched towards home.
As I get closer to the double wide trailer nestled in the grass, I can hear the music playing on high; old records that skip a beat now and then due to all the scratches and scuffs. My smile begins to dim. I keep going and slowly open the front door. I peek in praying that I don’t see what I think I will.
The aroma of alcohol gusts through the air and tells me all I need to know. I walk in all the way and the scene unfolds. Albums scattered all over the carpet, empty beer cans lining the coffee table and my mother; passed out with a half empty fifth of vodka clutched in her hands. The salt from my tears burns my cheeks as they roll down my face.
I know what this means. There will be no girls’ night. There will be no fun at all for several weeks. Yep, another binge.
Could I survive another one? Could she? Even at eight years old, I knew this destructive behavior couldn’t continue.
I also knew I would be doing all of the cooking and cleaning until she was better. I started by pulling the homemade afghan my Grandma had made up over my mom’s limp body. If only Grandma were still here to tell me what to do. If only someone were here.
I tried to work on my homework but my brain wouldn’t stay focused. Something was different this time. I had tried to wake her up several times but she wouldn’t respond. She was still breathing, I always checked to make sure. I sat there watching her for a very long period of time. Finally, she awoke with a start and asked me what I wanted. I was then sent outside to play as she couldn’t stand the sight of me (her words).
I pulled an old skateboard out of the garage. Just as I placed my second foot onto the rusty old board, it happened. It started as a scream that could wake up the dead. It was an ear wrenching sound that can only be described as a person expressing complete and utter pain. The shrieks became louder. My heart jumped out of my chest. I ran for the house and ripped open the front door. The sounds were coming out of my mom and she was convulsing on the floor. This is what they call the DT’s.
I frantically called emergency services, but in the fifteen minutes it took them to arrive, I sat there helplessly watching my mom thrash around and produce sounds I never knew were humanly possible.
I tried to help but I didn’t know what to do. I moved large items away from her.
I begged her to come to and talk to me. I begged her to stop. I thought Please mom, don’t die. The next sound I heard was the siren of the ambulance. This is usually the point where I wake up. I will be drenched in sweat and still want to cry.
I don’t know why this dream still haunts me and I ask God to take it away. For years, I held anger in my heart. Why did I have to deal with this? Why was she my mother? But, over the years I have learned the importance of forgiveness.
My heart is filled with love now.
Even though my mother and I still aren’t close, I know that she had demons she was dealing with.
I realise that she raised me the best she could. For that, I love her.
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